The unsolicited phone calls offer everything from miracle cures to financial relief. So you can be sure
Public concern and confusion about the COVID-19 pandemic has given fraudsters a number of ways to pull every trick out of their books to benefit people, including robocalls. A recent survey of 4,038 Americans conducted by the Senior Services Company Provision Living speaks volumes in this regard.
"Almost a quarter of respondents said they saw an increase in robocalls since COVID-19, and one in five received a robocall for COVID-19," the survey said. Most often, the robocalls and text messages said they offered treatment (22%), financial relief (18%), and free COVID-19 tests (18%).
Of course, this won't come as a surprise to our regular readers, who are now aware of coronavirus-themed scams that are fake charities, fake test kits, credit card-stealing websites, and even extortion, to name just a few recurring riffs on the same topic.
But let's go back to the survey, which shows that two out of five callers say they represent the Social Security Authority (SSA), 38% pretend to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials, and over a third came from travel companies. All of this seems a wise trick as the pandemic has forced many people to cancel their vacation plans, and some have been through hard times.
A total of 15% received a robocall for their stimulus checks from people who claim to be from the IRS. It is important to note that the IRS does not normally call anyone. The financial service also does not ask you to use a specific payment method (debit card, gift card, transfer, etc.), but usually sends the taxpayer an invoice first with the taxes they owe.
In general, fraud involving the IRS is not uncommon. Some cybercriminals try to commit tax refund fraud by also using robocalls to steal other people's identities.
The incessant robocalls had another negative effect: over half of those questioned were afraid to take calls from unrecognizable numbers, while 46% missed an important call because they thought it was a robocall. On the other hand, the scams have also encouraged vigilance; Almost three quarters of Google respondents have an unknown number before they call back.
How to protect yourself
Here's how to avoid falling prey to robocalls and fraudulent text messages:
When you receive a Robocall, hang up and add it to the list of blocked numbers on your phone immediately.
You can enter your number in a national registration or list. Here you will find the links to the various registers that offer the service – in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, India, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
Never share personal information such as your social security number, address, birthday or tax identification number if you are not sure who you are talking to.
Always check the identity of the caller. Ask them to identify themselves, and then check this information with the organization they want to represent.
Some network providers also offer their own anti-fraud and spam blocking apps so you can inquire about them and download them to your device. Alternatively, you can use a third-party app that provides the service. However, you should research it carefully.
Also tell your family members about the dangers of robocalls and fraudulent texts, especially the older ones, as they are the most vulnerable.
Amer Owaida June 16, 2020 – 5:38 pm